Believe it or not, as often as I eat out with diners not of my choosing I usually find myself with people who are intelligent, engaging, charming, good-natured, interesting or if nothing else nice to look at.
But on Friday at the Beard House I sat next to the most unpleasant, self-pitying windbag of a freelance writer I have ever met.
Well, okay, maybe not the most unpleasant ever. But she was certainly the worst person I've had to sit next to for an entire evening in the past year.
I didn’t catch her name (and wouldn’t be so uncouth as to mention it if I did) but she had that rare ability to make interesting places sound boring, benign observances seem irritating, a pleasant meal in a nice setting with good wine tedious.
And she would repeat herself, too, and have strong opinions about things of which she was ignorant (she hates Las Vegas, but hasn't been there).
Two hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
Nice hosts, though, from Cero at the St. Regis Resort in Fort Lauderdale. Chef Toby Joseph, his first lieutenant Samuel Childers and pastry chef Jordi Panisello.
What I ate and drank:
Rabbit rillette with morel and stewed dates
Brandade croquettes with citrus caviar rémoulade
(oysters with sour apple granité and Chambord mignonette also were served, along with Napa cabbage and vegetable lobster rolls, but I didn’t get chance to try them)
NV Veuve Cliquot
Seared salmon with fennel and onion confit and black radish with mustard cream
2005 Pieropan Soave Classico
Peekytoe crab crêpe with English pea coulis
2005 Louis Mareau “Vaillons” Chardonnay, Chablis 1er Cru
Pineapple glazed Pacific pink snapper, hearts of palm purée and Asian spiced microgreens
2005 Domaine Schlumberger Pinot Gris “Les Princes Abbés”
Braised oxtail, sautéed diver scallop, porcini and fine carrot salad
2006 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba
Passion fruit raspberry chocolate fondant with lemon mango raviioli and hibiscus ice cream
NV Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Tokay